Human Growth Hormone and Harrison Hansen's bravery are two of the topics for Phil Clarke this week.
Last Updated: 25/02/10 11:17am
Much has been said about Terry Newton's failure of a drugs test last week.
I think that the team of hard-working drugs testers who have managed to find a reliable and legally watertight test for Human Growth Hormone should be congratulated.
They've worked diligently for years to get this breakthrough and ensure that sport is about healthy competition.
For those of you interested in Human Growth Hormone, here's a brief summary of the subject:
The hormone is naturally produced in the anterior pituitary gland (inside our brains) and stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration. Your body produces it throughout the day in little blasts, the biggest one occurring an hour after you've gone to sleep. (That's one of the reasons why it's a good idea for athletes / players to rest / sleep in the day after they've trained hard). As children and adolescents we produce more than the adult / elderly population, it helps us to grow obviously.
In some cases, doctors use a man-made version of Human Growth Hormone to treat children's growth disorders and adult growth hormone deficiencies.
Sadly, and rather dangerously, some sportsmen and women also use it to increase muscle mass and energy levels. It can also decrease their level of body fat. However there is still relatively little known about it.
We do know that it can lead to a pituitary tumour, thicken the jaw bone, fingers and toes, cause pressure on the nerves (e.g. carpel tunnel syndrome), lead to diabetes, liver damage and gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men).
If that list isn't enough to put you off taking it, then I'm not sure what is!
On the attack
I spent time a lot of time last week looking at the number of defenders that teams put into a tackle. This week I thought that I'd try to take a quick look into the attacking side of things.
In my opinion, rugby is at its best when the ball passes from player to player at speed and the team progress to the try line. Chris Riley's try on Saturday was a perfect example when the ball was moved from the centre of the pitch to the flank in four fast passes.
I've only done the one game between Warrington and Wigan, but wanted to know your thoughts on what makes a good game of rugby league?
Total number of passes:
Then we need to take account of the fact that Warrington had a bit more possession than Wigan so we can divide the total number of passes by the total number of play-the-balls that each team had.
Warrington: 183 passes ÷ 143 play-the-balls = 1.28 passes per play
Wigan: 163 passes ÷ 122 play-the-balls = 1.34 passes per play
It might be a surprise to many that there are less than two passes on an average play in a rugby league match. Very few could say that last Saturday's game didn't have all of the ingredients for a classic sporting event - drama, tension, controversy and an amazing atmosphere.
As we attempt to attract more supporters to the sport we need to look at what regular and floating viewers find attractive about the game. Is there enough movement of the ball to entice new followers of the sport? Do we have enough scoring opportunities in a game? Is there enough risk taking?
Let me know what you think.
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Hi Phil. Can you please advise what the rule change concerning the kick and chase for 2010 is? During the live games at the weekend you commented on a rule change relating to offside when a team kicks on the last tackle. I have been unsuccessful in finding this rule change. Thanks, Philip Sheeran.
PHIL SAYS: The below answer is from Stuart Cummings:
For a player to be onside he must have both feet behind the ball when it is kicked.
A player who does not have both feet behind the ball when it is kicked is placed onside if:
The kicker runs in front of him and the offside player is further than 10 metres from a man receiving the ball.
The man receiving the ball plays the ball but does not retain it (stops it with his foot and then picks up the ball) and the offside player is not within 10 metres when it is played.
If there is no-one waiting to receive the ball then the 10-metre rule would not apply but the kicker would still have to place him onside by getting in front of him.
A player who is in front of the play-the-ball when the ball is played cannot be placed onside in any of the situations mentioned above. He cannot get involved in any part of the next play unless he retires behind the point of the last play the ball.
When this happens the officials refer to it as being "downtown" which is a quick codeword to state that a player is out of play.
In the NRL - but not in our competition - they are attempting to stop players heading downfield before the ball is kicked. They are implementing the law that states that a player cannot chase downfield on a kick chase until the ball has passed over their head. They will be penalised if they do.
It will be interesting to monitor how they go with it.
I hope that this helps you Philip. I do believe that we need to give the two wingers and fullback a real chance to counter attack when they receive kicks. It is a bit like scrums for me. In theory, it's a chance to see the fastest, most evasive players running with the ball in hand.
TACKLING THE ISSUE
Phil, I'd like to ask your opinion on Adrian Morley's tackle on Harrison Hansen at the end of the Warrington v Wigan game. It's been a talking point on the Internet message boards mainly discussing how hard a hit it was and how well Hansen did to keep hold of the ball but I think this is covering up the fact the "tackle" was actually illegal. If you watch it back you can see Morley stiffen his arm by his side, charge Hansen and he pivots his body so in effect swings his stiff arm to make contact. I was under the impression it was against the rules to simply charge a player and an attempt must be made to make a tackle? Morley charged Hansen swinging round to make contact with his arm and clearly had no intention of tackling him given he deliberately had his arm stiff by his side. I know in rugby union that "tackle" would be illegal for certain. What about Rrugby league and whether legal or not by RL rules do you consider it dangerous? Regards, Dave Oddie
PHIL SAYS: I think that every player in Super League has to undergo an initiation test. Their journey into manhood or acceptance amongst their peers usually involves some degree of pain and bravery. In my opinion, Harrison Hansen had his on Saturday night at Warrington when he kept hold of the ball near to his own line with the clock ticking down and his own team just two points in front.
He would not have been human if he'd made that run without a certain level of fear running through his body. Admittedly it happened very quickly, but there was still enough time for Hansen to see Morley attempting to knock him out of the ground.
Fans love Morley for his passion and bravery. He has no interest in self preservation. He just wants to play the game as hard as he can, knowing that it's going to hurt anyway, so he might as well try to inflict more pain than he receives.
Like you, I am aware that a shoulder charge is illegal in rugby union, but not in rugby league (or so I think, I will double check to make sure). I don't think that shoulder charges (if we classify them as that) should be illegal. I haven't seen any evidence to show that they are more dangerous than a conventional tackle and believe that fans pay to watch the high impacts that they often provide.